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The Unseen Difference Between Humility and Arrogance

Believing and acting like “It’s not about me.”

Defining Humility in twelve words or less may seem like a challenge. What is Humility? How do you describe it? As our team searched for its definition, we gained clarity when we considered the opposite of Humility—which is arrogance.  Arrogance, after all, is easy to define.  We see it everywhere in our culture.  

Arrogance, at its core, believes “It’s all about me.”  Its effect is obvious in professional sports, politics, entertainment and in the workplace.  It’s easy to find the arrogant examples in our midst. Some leaders act like others are there to make them successful.  They behave as if getting what they want or getting things done their way is the essence of leadership.  Though they may never say it, they act like "It's all about me." These leaders may have a group of compliant employees, but they do not have a team of committed followers.

This element of leadership was a lesson I learned the hard way in the early years of my marriage.  At one point in my career, we lived far away from family and were raising 4-year-old twins.  My wife wanted to discuss moving closer to family back in Texas.  I, on the other hand, wouldn’t even entertain the idea.  I had built a great work team.  I belonged to a great country club. I had season tickets to our local NFL franchise.  Life was good. That is, life was good for me.

My focus was on what I had and what I wanted.  I was an arrogant husband and father. Fortunately, I had an epiphany. I realized my role as a leader in my house was not to get what I wanted.  As a leader, it should not be about me.  

Thankfully, my wife stuck with me and waited for me to mature as a leader and a husband. I opened up to the idea of moving. We relocated back to Texas and our life has been richer for it.  That season taught me that my wife and my family are not here for me.  I am here for them.